Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Half the Sky "Granny" Program???

We have inquired about a "Granny" program that Sophie is involved with. Our agency is not for sure what this is.....So I have done a little research. My friend Kim has also told me about the program that her daughter was in, which is highly likely that Sophie is in the same program but we will not know until we talk with the Orphanage Director and/or when we get home and are able to request information from Half the Sky.

Here is what Patricia told me from Half the Sky. It explains our confusion. So after we arrive home we can confirm our thoughts....Still not sure if she is in the Little Sisters Program or the Baby Sisters Program. I would think it would now be the Little Sisters Program due to her age??? Here is what Patricia emailed me below.


The program that is referred to as a “Granny” program is not the
Little Sisters program—it’s the baby sisters program, i.e. our nannies are referred to as “Grandmas” in some translations. Here is the link to information about that program:




Dear Michele,

Congratulations on your referral!

We do have a Baby Sisters program in Chengdu and when it is translated from Chinese into English it is often referred to as the “granny” program.

We will be happy to check our database and send you any progress reports/photos we have on file for your daughter after you bring her home—our staff prepares a short progress report with a photo four times a year.

Regarding your donation question, donations of any amount can be targeted to a specific orphanage where we have a center, including Chengdu.

I hope you travel to China soon—have a wonderful trip.



Here is a link to a great video about Half the Sky's Programs. (Click on that sentence to view link.)

Here is a little bit about both of these programs:

The Little Sisters Preschool Program (Click on the Title for the Link)
In the Little Sisters Preschools, Half the Sky-trained teachers use a unique and progressive curriculum that blends principles of the Reggio Emilia approach to early childhood education with contemporary Chinese teaching methods.

The program is designed not only to prepare the children (2-7years) to succeed in Chinese schools, but also to help develop the “whole child”, to help her attain the positive sense of self so often missing in institutionalized children.

Special areas are designed for art projects, music, reading, imaginary play and developing motor skills. Teachers build on the approach fostered in the infant nurture program by getting to know each child’s individual interests and developing curriculum and projects based on those interests.

All Half the Sky preschool teachers are university or normal school (teacher’s college)-educated in China and also undergo Half the Sky training which includes an emphasis on documenting each child’s progress – creating a personal history and permanent record for children who do not have a family to mark their milestones and achievements.

The Baby Sisters Infant Nurture Program (Click on Title for Link)
The little ones in Half the Sky’s Baby Sisters Infant Nurture Centers make their journey from sleeping infants to running toddlers with the help of Half the Sky-trained nannies with whom they develop deep emotional bonds. These are the bonds that are crucial for healthy brain development.

Half the Sky’s nannies—retired or laid-off workers from the local community—are trained to act as every parent who has fallen in love with a child intuitively acts—they sing, play, cuddle, hug, and generally dote on their charges. In so doing the nannies help babies avoid the problems that are so common in institutionalized children who have been fed and clothed, but not cherished.

The nannies learn to recognize the signs of delays. They learn simple therapies to help the babies reach developmental milestones. They learn the art of responsive care…watching their young charges, listening to them, and providing the nurture as it is needed.

Infants need more than food and clothes—they need the daily love and interaction with caring adults that Half the Sky’s nannies provide.

We are excited to know that Sophie is recieving extra help.

Thank God for Half the Sky!!!

Help From Friends

I have been feeling so overwhelmed with things to do lately that I have had to ask others for help. I just want to write a little bit about it here so Sophie knows about all of the people that have helped her.

I wanted to say Thank You to Roxx (here is a link to their adoption story, very touching!!) because of helping us with reading our report and giving us advise and pointing other things out. We appreciate your teaching and Mom knowledge. Also thank you for contacting your sister in law and friend from College about Medical Information for Sophie. I am sure that they are very busy people and I appreciate you taking time to ask them as a favor to us. Roxx, did you know that the very day we saw Sophie for the first time and looked at her report I saw Beth picking up Nicholas at Cross Country Practice. She read the report and said the same thing about when we could start Sophie in Kindergarten, etc.!! Here is one of the emails from Roxx:

M, Here are my notes from the report. Let me know if you have any questions. My pleasure to help! Thanks for including me! I love Sophie already! You must be ready to burst. I remember this stage... hang in there... you'll be on the plane soon! XOXOX,R

I also wanted to say Thank You To Kimi for researching a video camera for us and finding such a good one that was affordable. It feels good to let go. You know before I would of never have done that. Thanks for picking up the disposable cameras for us. Thank you so much for taking our videos of our Gottcha Day and China Trip with Simone and putting it on a DVD for us. We are so appreciative and it is helping Simone in so many ways. Thank you so much for your friendship.

Thanks Rachel for thinking of putting Simone in a swim class with Lauren and Jake this summer. I wish she was ready. For now we will just stick to the open swims, well that is if we can get in, Ha-Ha. Thanks for always checking in.

Becca for helping me get Simone into a gymnastics class because you know how much she LOVES it. I have been so busy with work I have not had the time to keep up with the organization of it all at the moment. Get your camera ready.

Jeni for being you and listening. I miss you already! When are you coming home?!?? I saw Todd today and told him that I missed you. He said some thing like you are going to be home in a couple of days...I said, I know and though to my self that phone calls to Florida are pretty expensive but worth it...Really I don't want to bug you while you are taking care of Sara :O) You better be pampering her.

Friends and Family for your emails and prayers....And for asking. We don't mind when you ask us how things are going.. Please remember to post comments here that you want Sophie to have as a memory.

Thank God for Friends!

Monday, April 28, 2008


Our Nephew Brandon arrived today from Texas!!

It was so good to see him!! We can't wait to spend more time with him this weekend and watch the Loyalty Day Parade.

Simone adores him and she kept giving him hugs! Simone keeps telling me, "Cause Brandon gave me this, his own!" (As she holds up his Rubics Cube. She is referring to the Rubic Cube that she gave to him.

It is so good to see family!

University of Washington Doctor

Today we received information from Heather who works for Dr. Davies at The Center for Adoption Medicine University of Washington Pediatric Care Center. Dr. Davies is the one who consulted us with Sophie's Referral. She sent us an email regarding the medical update that we received from China in April. Dr. Davies gave us encouraging comments.

We are thankful to receive care from such a wonderful doctor.

Dear Michele and Rick,

Dr. Davies just returned your file to me with his comments on your update. He wrote, "Her growth is steadily small (but not worse, and her head circumference is closer to the 3rd percentile than before.) She has impressive language development, as reported! I'm not surprised about the walking comments."

We should send you a new prescription form with adjusted dosage for the zithromax.

Thanks! Heather

Possible Photos of Sophie from Denise

On Monday I checked my email very quickly before school to see if I had an email from our agency. I always check my email a couple of times a day...Just in case although I do it knowing that if our LOA/LOC was in they would call and not send an email....So glad I did because in the subject line of one of my emails it read, Michele....possible Sophie pics

It was an email from a blogger friend Denise. She sent the email through our Chengdu Yahoo Group Email. We are so thankful that Denise though of our family and has this memorie for photo for Sophie. Thank YOU DENISE!!

I want to keep the email for Sophie so her is what she wrote:

I have some pics from the orphanage that I think shows your Sophie. E mail me and I will e mail them to you. I am not sure, but wanted you to see them. I felt bad not being able to get you any info while I was there.I tried to go to your blog, but I guess that you have gone private. I would love to be invited to view your blog if you are comfortable with that.Denise

Above are the photos she sent. Sophie is in the first photo on the left. What a blessing!!!!!!!!!!

***A little bit about closing Sophie's blog for a couple of days. I panicked after reading a couple of other blogs....I read on a couple that China checks blogs and yahoo groups and it may possibly affect your adoption. Since I was so busy this last weekend and at work I did not have time to look into this. After doing research we feel comfortable opening it back up for now since we do have our PA.

****Our adoption agency told us our package to Sophie was finally mailed today!!!!! The person who needed to translate our letter was out on vacation and has been trying to catch up since she has been gone. Anyways we are happy about it being on it's way. We also received the official address to the Orphanage and will be sending our second package some time next week. It will have two disposable cameras and not sure what else??

Close Up Of Sophie with Maggie

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Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Part Two of It Is SOPHIE!!

I thought this photo would be fitting to put first because these are some of Sophie's first little friends. Joseph and Amelia. Kim told me that they are likely all together because they all have club feet. This photo above is from Joseph's Mom, via Kim.

Thanks to Kim, Amelia Mom, we now have all of these photos of Sophie!! I appreciate her emails and time it took to email me all of these photos. She also sent me a few photos that do not have Sophie in them but they are also so valuable because they tell the story about where Sophie lives. She included photos of the Orphanage Foray, Kitchen, Therapy Room, "bedrooms"....She knows first hand how these photos are priceless. I also like the photos that Sophie is not in because one of these Ayi's may very be hers!!!! These photos were taking between June-July of 2007.
Kim also told me that there is a chance that Sophie may be in the Half the Sky program. Maybe this is what they are referring to the "Grannie Program" that she is in?? They give us no other information other than that. From what Kim explained and after reading their web site I learned that I can only find out if they have her information after she is adopted which means we will have to wait until we come home. Kim told me that they gave her photos of her daughter while in the program and a written report in Chinese.

Seeing these photos make me so happy to know that she is having fun and the orphanage seems very clean. Happy to see that she is playing with toys and being physically active. When I put Simone to bed at night we pray for Sophie and for our travel to China.

Thank you so MUCH KIM!!!

It IS!

The first photo I saw of Sophie which is from last summer (2007), which would of been before her 2nd birthday.

Some how I started reading a blog called Amelia's Journey. I think I was linked to it from my Chengdu Yahoo Group. I was first interested in this blog because this child was adopted from the same orphanage where Sophie lives. Then I find out she has club feet (hoping to learn more about the process) just like Sophie so I read more...and more and then I find this entry and I see Sophie's face!! I immediately talk to Rick and he thinks it is her too. So I left a comment on this Mom's blog and she emailed us back confirming our thoughts.
What a blessing that Kim wanted to share her photos and information with us. She is our angel :O)
How wonderful to have more photos from Sophie's past and learn more about where she lives and her little friends!!

Monday, April 14, 2008

Can It BE??

(I thought this photo was fitting. I took it just out side of the White Swan Hotel in Goungzhou China in May of 2005. Beautiful Chinese lanterns, but the sky is over casted from smog....just how I feel right now from finding these photos.)

Today as I was reading another adopted families blog who adopted from the same Orphanage as where Sophie lives my eyes stumble upon a couple of photos that look just like our little Sophie!!! I have been feeling sick today and was not even going to check my email but I did. I can't even remember how I found their blog. I think it was from the Chengdu Yahoo Group that I belong to. Oh, how I appreciate that group. So I left a comment on their blog and hope that they email me back.

Can it be?? I show Rick and he immediately says it is too.

Can it be?? The families blog that I was reading this afternoon just kept me interested so I kept reading on and on and on......then I read that their second daughter has club feet just like Sophie and look to be around the same age.

Can it be?? It is worth hoping for as I have no idea of how many photos we will have from her past? If it is not that is OK, at least we tried and looked into it. The photo is from last summer but it still looks like her.

Can it be?? Time will tell......
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Saturday, April 12, 2008

Mailed Package For Sophie Today

We mailed our first package for Sophie today. Part of me wanted to "smash" the three of us in that box and send us to China!!

It is a weird feeling to be sending her material things when all I want is for us to be together and hold our little girl. Doing some thing like this should be so easy but it was so very hard today. I am surprised by days like today because I never would of thought that I would of gotten so emotional over putting this little package together. I have known about this for over a month now, I knew I wold be doing this but I still got emotional. But on the other hand I am so happy that she will be able to finally see us, her new family.

As you can see by this first photo we left a spot blank under her photo because our agency is going to translate her name and write it there.

We sent Sophie a cute, snugly pink blanket, tiny plush dog and a photo album. At the last minute I put in two hair pretties and three play bracelets because they said she likes to have her hair "done up" and likes to dress up.

Thanks Becca and Sue for all of your help today making this little album for Sophie!

Here is one of the inside pages. After the first page we put a couple of photos of Simone, then a couple of Me, then a couple of Daddy, then a couple of my Mom (the Grandma because we were told to include all family members that will be traveling to China with us.), then a couple of our family, then our dog, then her room, then I wrote on one page a short letter - on the opposite side our agency will translate it in Chinese. The last page is another photo of her and they are going to write the words We Love you in Chinese. We tried to keep one photo per page so it would be appropriate for her developmental level and not to clutter looking. We laminated it and it is 7 x 7.
It was so hard to figure out what to write and to make it short and developmentally appropriate. We have so much to say to her, I just went blank!!! I also wanted to get it out in the mail today so I did not have much time to think this over. I think I was trying too hard, trying to make it just so for our little girl.
Here is what I wrote:
Dear Ji Shi Wei,
We are so excited to become your Mommy, Daddy and Sister.
Simone can't wait to play with you. Your dog is also waiting for you.
We look at your pictures every day! you have such a beautiful smile, cute hair and adorable eyes. We feel so lucky and can't wait to hold you.
We will see you in a couple of months and bring you home so we can be a family forever.
We love you, Mommy, Daddy and Big Sister Simone

On Thursday, when we received our Pre Approval, our case worker told us we could now send a care package to Sophie. We are so excited to finally send her one!! Our agency said they would send one for us and they would label all photos as well as translate a short letter. They are very specific about what you can send, no camera. They said that we could send another package on our own and we will.

In the next one we for sure will be sending a camera. I was so lucky to have talked with Denise via email and she told me about Red Thread China . She said that I could send Sophie a package through them like she has. Has anyone else had good luck with them?? Any advice or stories would be appreciated.

I feel so blessed to have been in contact with other Moms who are/have adopted from China as I really value your support and information.

Thanks, Michele

Thursday, April 10, 2008

Pre Approval from China Today for Sophie!

When I picked up Simone from school today her Teacher Barb told me that Simone had some thing in her cuby to show me. I think she said that her Teacher Jessica or Teacher Dee wanted her to show us this. When I saw it I was so happy because it was like she already knew about the good news that I was going to tell her.
The good news is that we received our Pre Approval from China today!!!!!!!!
Big day in our house.

I think she did a pretty good job of drawing Sophie.

Simone is doing so good with her writing. Here she writes Sophies name and Baby! I love the photo she made of Sophie. The long eye lashes and short hair!! I just had to take a photo since it was on the white board and we have to return it to preschool tomorrow.
Below is the email that our case worker sent us after we got off the phone. I am posting the email since she does such a good job of spelling out every thing.
Hi Rickey and Michele,

Congratulations on receiving your pre-approval today from the CCAA. This means that the CCAA has pre-approved your family to adopt Shi Wei. They will now match your dossier with your pre-approval application and review your information more closely. If everything looks good, they will then issue your Confirmation Letter in 2-4 months from now (possibly shorter because your family were logged in earlier but 2-4 months has been the average). Average wait time to receive your Travel Notice will be 3-5 months, and then travel around 3-4 weeks later.

I asked Yu Ping who works in the China Program about the pronounciation and meaning of Shi Wei's full name. She said that her last name Ji is pronounced the same as the character of the chicken, but they didn't use the character that means chicken. Instead, the character they used means record or millennium.

She said the character of Shi means world. The character of Wei doesn't really have a meaning but is a very typical character for a girl.

Regarding the pronounciation, Shi Wei is pronounced the way you say it from what I can tell. 'Ji" is a little bit harder and to get it all correct, I will put Yu Ping on the phone one day to pronounce it for you since she is Chinese. I hope this works.

Sincerely, Linda

What I appreciate about our agency is that they always prepare you for the longest wait times! Two families from our agency just received their Travel Approval on Friday for their waiting children. I asked her their time line. She told me that the one family has a LID like ours from 2006 & waited two months for their Travel Approval. The other family that has an LID of 2007 waited three months for their Travel Approval. But as always, things can go much longer or much faster.

It is all in Gods timing. This will probably be the last time I do this but here are some of the emails we received today. Since this will be Sophie's scrapbook I just want to save them for her. From now on if anyone wants to leave her a comment just leave it here on her blog so she can have it. Here are the wonderful comments we received from our friends this afternoon!!!! Since you don't know all of my friends nick names I have added them in parentheses. *See them below:

*HOLY SMOKES!!! I am so thrilled for you! This is fabulous. God has all the details worked out. Your family has shown so much faith in your wait.
How fun is summer going to be????
Michele, I know a lot of people offer, but if you need ANYTHING, please ask (Andrea M)

*Congratulations!! One more step closer to Sophie!! Hopefully everything else will come quickly and you can soon be on your way!

*holy cow that is fabulous! The best news ever! I am so thrilled for you guys!!
Love from us 5 (The Kuhlmans)

*that is so great WOW can't wait to meet her (Rachel, Bryan, Holt and Kingsley)

*Great news for you! June would be great then you would have the summer with her before you had to go back to school. You are in my prayers. Love and miss you guys. (Cami and Chris)

*Just in time for a wonderful summer…and beyond!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! I am so happy for your family…little Sophie couldn't’t be luckier to have the parents and sister that await her! I just got the chills writing this!!
Jan Mills

*I dont know if Windy wrote you back yet.. But I am so excited for the both of you!! We are praying that everything goes smoothly for you guys! Mike

One more thing! After lunch I started telling my PE classes. I was so excited to finally tell them. I will tell the rest of my classes tomorrow. There are a few classes that I will miss since their second PE day was on Wed. but I am sure the good news will fly!

So what now? I am working on a small photo album to send to Sophie tonight for her Care Package!! YIPPY, we finally get to do this. We are sending her a pink blanket, small photo album, letter and small stuffed animal or doll. I will take pictures of it when it is ready. Our agency can not send a disposable camera due to the rules so I will send her a second small package with one of those in it. It is a neat feeling to know that soon she will see our faces and learn that her Mommy, Daddy and Sister are coming to get her soon!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Thank you God!

*Below are some more comments from family and friends....I just have to keep them for Sophie. So here they are.

*I dont know if Windy wrote you back yet.. But I am so excited for the both of you!! We are praying that everything goes smoothly for you guys! Mike

*Congratulation...... two months are nothing....... Sophie will be here soon!!!!!!! I send a big kiss for Simone.............. Bye! Lina

*Oh, my gosh! CONGRATULATIONS! I am so excited for your family! Keep me posted! How great if you could head out as soon as June to go get Sophie and bring her home! (Jessica C.)

*I am so excited for you and your family as you await the arrival of your little girl! (Lori)

Monday, April 07, 2008

Tears Today

So today after work I just went into my office and just sat there thinking of Sophie. It is so hard to think of her in China and us here at home just wanting to hold her.

So I just started to look at a few of my favorite blogs of people that are in China right now with their new daughters and I started to tear up. I just hope that we can bring Sophie Home SOON!!

As I stare at the computer one of my friends, Kris, comes in to see how things are going. What great timing as I needed to snap out of it. Thanks Kris for coming down to visit and check on me. It means the world to me.

Waiting for Sophie seems even harder now that we are so close but yet it seems so far away!

I just pray every day for her health and happiness while she waits for her Mommy, Daddy and Sister to come and bring her home!

Saturday, April 05, 2008

Tea Party For Sophie

Simone, "Cheers for Sophie!"
Today Simone, Sara, My Mom and I had a little Tea Party for Sophie. We got out a few candles, special hand made "flower dishes" by Simone and I, little tea cups, cookies, warm milk and a little globe.... all for Sophie.
We have been lucky to spend a lot of time this week with Sara so we thought this would be fun to do while the Daddy's are out purchasing new road/pedal bicycles and Emma, Becca and Grandma Cyndi are out having a big girls day.
(While I am writing this blog my Mom, Sara and Simone are down stairs watching Singing and Dancing with Mei Mei! (A very cute Chinese Dance/Singing DVD. They are all singing as we speak, I just love listening to them.)
Here is a little sample of our conversations from our tea party: (Let me give you a little back ground information. Scott, Becca, Emma and Sara are considering going to China with us. It all depends on the timing of the trip and the price of air plane tickets, etc......)
Michele - "Girls what is your favorite thing to do?"
Simone - "Candles."
Sara - "China."
Michele - "What is your favorite song?"
Simone - "Lullaby"
Sara - "China"
Simone - "What is yours Mommy?"
Michele - "Mine is the Island Princess song, When We are Here Together."
Grandma Prater - "Praise the Lord."
Simone - "Mine is just what Grandma said."
Simone - "Sing that one Grandma." So Grandma Prater sings a few lines from that song."
Sara - "You like coffee?" (She is talking to Grandma Prater)
Grandma Prater - "Yes, do you like it?"
Sara - "NO, It's GROUSE! It is only for Grandmas!"
Michele - "What is your favorite book?"
Simone - "My favorite is Jesus Loves Me." (Grandma Prater just gave it to her for Easter.)
Sara - "Is For My Momma."
Michele - "What is your favorite thing to eat?"
Simone - "Mac and Cheese."
Sara - "Mac and Cheese."
Michele - "What is your favorite animal."
Simone - "LION"
Sara - "Tigers, Baby Tigers."
Michele - "Let's look at the globe. This is where Sophie lives in China."
Sara - "Yeah."
Simone - "It takes a long plane ride."
Simone - "Sara wants to go to China."
What a fun morning we had during our little Tea Party for Sophie!!
Sara, Grandma Prater and Simone.

A Special Gift

On Wednesday March 26th, 2008 we came home to a special package on the front porch. When we opened it we saw that it was a beautiful, warm, snugly fleece blanket from our friends Roxi and Beth!! They also embroidered Sophie's name on it. I got very emotional and teary eyed looking at it when I found they also put her birthday on there!!!

It was such a thoughtful gift from two friends!! Thanks for thinking of our little Sophie. We can't wait to wrap her in it and we will be bringing this to China with us.

Love you guys!! ~US

Simone's idea for me to "take a picture" of her in Sophie's blanket. I said, "Well I can not see your face!" Simone replies, "that's OK, take the picture!"
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Friday, April 04, 2008

Email from Case Worker

Hi Michelle,

Thank you for your e-mail. One family waited a little over one month from their pre-approval date to receiving the confirmation letter. The other family waited over 2 months. I will say that in your case, it is possible that it will be on the faster end because your dossier has already been reviewed and you have been logged in for a long time.

Have a great weekend, (case worker)

Tuesday, April 01, 2008

Update Information About Sophie Today!!

Today was a big day for us at our house because we received updated information about medical and developmental information about Sophie! We are so blessed that we received this today! We are hoping it is a good sign as we just want to go bring her home!!!!!!!!
Rick also recieved good news, he recieved a scholarship for his National Board Teaching Certification that he will be doing in the fall!!! We are so proud of him!!!!